Helsinki city centre is facing a new era after the pandemic. The traditional city centre operators such as banks and fast fashion retail concepts are moving out, making room for new types of responsible retail businesses. Retailer Ruohonjuuri, founded in 1982 and specialising in organic food, natural cosmetics, and health products, just opened its new 700 sqm flagship in a historical bank venue, created by Finnish design firm Amerikka.
— Ultimately, the objective was to revitalize the bricks-and-mortar experience for shoppers in this central location. We believe strongly, that well-designed and curated retail is highly demanded by the customers, says Sami Maukonen, architect and CEO.
The lifespan of the store was also set at 10 years, instead of the 3–5 years, that’s typical for retail spaces. There is often pressure within the retail sector for premises to be frequently updated, which can result in building work being carried out when it’s not really needed. At Ruohonjuuri’s flagship store, every effort has been made to reduce the need for frequent refurbishment and upgrades by opting for flexible, modular design solutions, and durable materials, such as Finnish spruce, cork, brick, linoleum, and steel.
— Lots of businesses produce sustainability strategies that do an excellent job of accounting for the environmental impact of their offices and supply chains. What’s still often overlooked is the fact that building work is responsible for a vast proportion of our carbon emissions. So it’s those emissions that businesses that are serious about sustainability will need to take this into account when designing and building their offices and commercial spaces, Maukonen states.
Part of the challenge is the lack of carbon emissions calculation methods suitable for use in renovation and interior architecture projects. So, Amerikka developed its own proprietary process that allows these impacts to be calculated accurately. With this method, the store’s carbon footprint is 15% smaller than expected. The building’s original historic features have been retained wherever possible and changes have been made only where they have been critical to delivering an extended lifespan for the store. The office spaces are furnished using existing furniture, while the shop fittings are sourced from Finnish manufacturers.
The Ruohonjuuri flagship store will also be used to pilot new retail concepts. As the company’s offices are located on the same premises, customer feedback and other insights can be shared seamlessly.
— Sustainable building means creating attractive, appealing spaces for shoppers and staff where the design serves the intended function. The new store is ideally set up to offer a whole new range of in-store services too. The past few years have shown us that when you have a strong concept, you will do well, even in a challenging climate, says Maukonen.
And now, what’s next for you?
— We design travel hubs with a wide range of services to Helsinki Central railway station. It is originally designed by Eliel Saarinen and is one of the most iconic buildings in Finland. We have updated the building’s functional and commercial concept and designed additions like new pavilions.